WVU looks to plug holes with junior college players
Among West Virginia's current total of 22 football commitments are five junior college players, including three who already signed prior to Wednesday's first official signing date: four offensive players and one player on defense.
All five junior college players were recruited to fill specific needs.
Wide receivers Ronald Carswell (Hawamba Community College in Fulton, Miss.) and Kevin White (Lackawanna Community College in Scranton) were signed as potential replacements for Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, the top two career receiving leaders in school history.
Running back Dreamius Smith (Butler Community College in El Dorando, Kan.) was signed to replace Shawne Alston. Center Stone Underwood (Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Natchez, Miss.) is a potential replacement for Joe Madsen, a four-year starter. Outside linebacker D'Vante Henry of Arizona Western Community College (Yuyma, Ariz.) is a potential replacement for Josh Francis, who finished second on the team in sacks in 2012.
“A lot of times if you lose multiple players at a position, junior college is the way to go,” said Louisiana-based Mike Detillier, editor and publisher of Mike Detillier's NFL Draft Report and the college and pro football analyst for 870 AM Radio in New Orleans.
On the other hand, schools like West Virginia are pursuing junior college players to fill holes in their roster.
“You better hope of the junior college players you sign, two or three at least better make huge impacts right away,” said long-time college football blogger Mike Huguenin, who writes for the New York Times, Yahoo! Sports and gamedayr.com. “In West Virginia's case, it doesn't look like they're bringing in junior college players for depth.”
Detillier scouted Carswell, Underwood and Henry and believes they can help the Mountaineers immediately.
“You can have them in spring drills and get them ready to play in the regular season,” Detillier said. Of the 6-0, 180-pound Carswell, a former Alabama recruit, Detillier replied, “His team doesn't throw the football as much as some of the other junior colleges, but he's got a lot of speed and he can fill the spot that Stedman Bailey left.”
Detillier also gives a high grade to Underwood, who was recruited by SEC schools and would be an experienced replacement for Madsen, who started 50 games at WVU.
“A lot of SEC schools passed on him because he's not the most physical guy as a run blocker, but he's (better) for a spread-option team and you don't have a lot of those teams in the SEC,” Detillier said. “He's tailor-made for West Virginia.”
Arizona Western defensive coordinator Jerry Dominguez described Henry (6-5, 205, 4.4 in the 40) as a “very quick and explosive player. He did a great job for us this year and was a team captain. I feel his best football is in front of him, and he will get better each year. With his size and speed he has the potential to play in the NFL someday.”
WVU, which loses its top three sack leaders from last season, is recruiting another pass rushing specialist: Dontrill Hyman of Hinds Community College (Raymond, Miss.). Hyman also is being recruited by East Carolina, whose former defensive coordinator, Brian Mitchell. was hired as Mountaineers' cornerbacks backs coach last month.
“You can do that sporadically and bring in three or four junior college players, but you can't make a living at it,” Detillier said. “Mississippi State tried that years ago, and it didn't work. Ole Miss tried that when Ed Orgeron was coach; that didn't work either.”
Orgeron went 3-21 from 2005-07.